Status scam suspect blames victim

| 08/07/2019
Cayman News Service, rape

(CNS): When she took to the witness box last week, Judith Douglas (53) pointed the finger at Nat Robb, the man who says she conned him out of almost $2 million in a Caymanian status scam. The George Town woman claimed she was merely a go-between for Robb and a mystery person, described as ‘Mr Big’, who Douglas claimed was the one trying to secure status for the US national and owner of Indepth Watersports after he had demanded that she help him.

Douglas refused to identify the man she said she was giving the money to after she had taken it from Robb. She also refuted the content of WhatsApp messages that she had sent to Robb over a five-year period. The jury was given thousands of messages in evidence between Douglas and Robb that appeared to set out the history of the scam, but despite the nature of the messages Douglas indignantly refuted them.

She implied that they were out of context as they followed or related to calls between the two of them where they had already discussed the real meaning. She said that in other cases they were not her words but what the mystery man who was dealing with immigration officials had told her to say. But Douglas also claimed that Robb, who is a qualified IT professional, had doctored the messages in some way.

She also denied taking anything more than a few thousand dollars from Robb, and said that messages between them detailing the payments as well as other documents did not reflect the true amount. She said that Robb was conning his own business partners by trying to tell them he was spending money on buying Cayman status when really he was spending it on boats and other things for the dive business.

She said that he was lying in the messages he sent to her and she was going along with it so that he could forward these messages to his business backers who were giving him the money. Douglas told the jury that they had discussed these things on the phone and that, although in the messages she appeared to accept that she had received some $1.85 million from Robb, this was the amount he had wanted his partners to think he had given her, not what he actually had.

The jury heard that Douglas, a special educational needs assistant, has been previously convicted of conning several other people out of cash in exchange for PR, which she was never in any position to deliver.

However, on the stand she denied that those convictions were really what they seemed, implying that she had, on the advice of her attorney, taken a ‘plea deal’ offered by prosecutors because she had signed some receipts. She said that this previous conviction was how Robb had cajoled her into finding someone in government who could secure him Cayman status through nefarious means, as she insisted that Robb knew that what ‘Mr Big’ was doing to get him status was not legitimate.

Douglas claimed that when she met Robb he was aware that she had been arrested over an immigration issue. He had then made an assumption that she was able to secure people status. She said this wasn’t true but he had threatened her. She then agreed to try and help him by seeking someone who might be able to get the status that he was desperate to secure, she said. That was when another mystery friend of hers introduced her to ‘Mr Big’, who she said became a friend.

During the course of her time on the stand Douglas blamed Robb for getting her caught up in the scheme. She was indignant that the dive shop owner, who the crown says is almost $2 million out of pocket after handing it over to Douglas, was never charged. But she was keen to protect the identity of the man she said was her friend who was in contact with immigration officials and who was the one who had been trying to secure Robb’s status. She refused to reveal his identity and said he was no longer in the Cayman Islands.

When he appeared on the stand, Robb told the jury that during the five-year period he had been giving money to Douglas, on the understanding that most of it would be repaid, he was sometimes suspicious because of the appalling grammar on memos Douglas gave him that she had claimed were from her contact inside immigration. These letters were supposed to explain away the delays in the process of securing him status and why more money was needed. Robb said that while he was concerned, he believed Douglas had secured him permanent residency, so he continued to give her cash.

Robb said that on occasion he would be called by a man who did not give his name but claimed to be on the immigration board and was handling his application. He said that shortly before he reported the scam to police, he had met a man who claimed he was the one making the calls and that it was a con.

The crown called this man as a witness. He told the court that he was homeless, unemployed and addicted to drugs but had sometimes worked as a handyman for Douglas. When she asked him to make calls and pretend to be on the immigration board, he did as she asked. He said he wasn’t really sure what was going on because he was “kept in the dark about it all”, but he had said what she told him to say.

After a while, he said, he began to be concerned that something was wrong because the one thing he knew was that he had never been on the immigration board. He then decided he should tell Robb the truth and that something was awry.

However, Douglas denied ever getting her handyman to make any calls or that she had been involved in getting Robb his PR. She also claimed that Robb had not wanted permanent residency, only status. She claimed that he had eventually applied for the PR himself after Douglas had told him that he had to get that before her friend could help him get status.

The case continues.

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